H. Perennial & Old Fashioned Garden Plants & Flowers by John Wood
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Pulmonarias - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Pulmonarias - Lungworts; Nat. Ord. Boraginaceæ.
In speaking of these hardy herbaceous perennials, I should wish to be understood that the section, often and more properly called Mertensia, is not included because they are so very distinct in habit and colour of both flowers and foliage. Most of the Pulmonarias begin to flower early in March, and continue to do so for a very long time, quite two months.
For the most part, the flowers (which are borne on stems about 8in. high, in straggling clusters) are of changing colours, as from pink to blue; they are small but pretty, and also have a quaint appearance. The foliage during the blooming period is not nearly developed, the plants being then somewhat small in all their parts, but later the leaf growth goes on rapidly, and some kinds are truly handsome from their fine spreading habit and clear markings of large white spots on the leaves, which are often 9in. or 10in. long and 3in. broad, oblong, lanceolate, taper-pointed, and rough, with stiff hairs. At this stage they would seem to be in their most decorative form, though their flowers, in a cut state, formed into "posies," are very beautiful and really charming when massed for table decoration; on the plant they have a faded appearance.
Many of the species or varieties have but slight distinctions, though all are beautiful. A few may be briefly noticed otherwise than as above:
P. officinalis is British, and typical of several others. Flowers pink, turning to blue; leaves blotted.
P. off. alba differs only in the flowers being an unchanging white.
P. angustifolia, also British, having, as its specific name implies, narrow leaves; flowers bright blue or violet.
P. mollis, in several varieties, comes from North America; is distinct from its leaves being smaller, the markings or spots less distinct, and more thickly covered with soft hairs, whence its name.
P. azurea has not only a well-marked leaf, but also a very bright and beautiful azure flower; it comes from Poland.
P. maculata has the most clearly and richly marked leaf, and perhaps the largest, that being the chief distinction.
P. saccharata is later; its flowers are pink, and not otherwise very distinct from some of the above kinds.
It is not necessary to enumerate others, as the main points of difference are to be found in the above-mentioned kinds.
All are very easily cultivated; any kind of soil will do for them, but they repay liberal treatment by the extra quality of their foliage. Their long and thick fleshy roots allow of their being transplanted at any time of the year. Large clumps, however, are better divided in early spring, even though they are then in flower.
Flowering period, March to May.
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